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Jean_Manco

ODP Monthly Reports for 2006

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ODP´s editor community has decided to publish regular reports in future, to inform the public about the development of the project. To get started, we have compiled a report for the last year:

ODP Report Jan-Dec 2005.

Edited by Jean_Manco

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Hi Jean

 

It's good to see more visibility from the ODP. Transparency is a great way to get more grassroots involvement.

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I'm all in favour Barry. Of course the ODP has always had basic statistics on its front page, but those don't tell the whole story.

 

For example the number of editors given on the front page is all those who have ever been registered as editors. The number of active editors at any given time is less easy to compute, but now we have some reliable figures for last year.

 

The figure for number of listings has also been a bit confusing for various reasons. Now we can see something more meaningful - the rate of growth, including falls, which give an idea of the number of links that go dead and have to be removed (or in some cases changed). But as the report says, the falls due to Robozilla runs are only part of that story.

 

What Google calls 'link churn' on the Open Directory gives some idea of the rate of change in the Internet.

Edited by Jean_Manco

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Thanks for pointing this out to us, Jean.

 

I agree with Barry, the type of transparency that we see here helps let us know more about what is going on with the directory, and that's a good step forward.

 

Link churn is an interesting concept. Nice to see it being met head on at the DMOZ.

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Am I reading this wrong:

    *  Active editor accounts on 1 January 2005: ~8,000

    * Active editor accounts on 31 December 2005: ~ 7,744

    * Number of editor accounts approved since the foundation of ODP: 71,050

    * New editors accepted in 2005: 4,776

 

Does that mean the turnover for editors was over 50% last year? That seems like a lot ... I wonder what the average turnover over the years has been? Without knowing more, it seems like either they're approving editors who only stick around for a short time (and the rest are long-time editors) or there's something bothering the editors to make them leave in that number. (Or I'm reading too much into some dumb numbers :))

 

Any insight, anyone? Thanks!

 

John

 

PS Where is the "# of spam sites using ODP-data to fill up the serps"?

Edited by softplus

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Thanks Jean,

 

Its great to see some data on the project.

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Softplus - yes turnover of editors has always been pretty high.

 

Some editors are approved, but never even log in and so their accounts time out. Some make only one or two edits and then time out. Reasons? Could include lack of interest (perhaps applied on a whim, or out of curiosity) or just wanted to list their own site.

 

Of those who stay longer, some are removed, some die and some leave for happier reasons (new job, new business, new baby, promotion). Some burn out. Some get fed up.

 

Some force themselves to leave (or at least take long breaks) because it's bad for your health to get too addicted to editing. I'm serious! That includes me, so I can speak from certain knowledge. Yes I know most people reading this won't believe that sitting at a computer all day and night is anything but natural and normal. :) But the truth is the body needs exercise. And I'm not even going to start talking about repetitive strain injury and carpal tunnel syndrome.

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Thanks, Jean

 

I imagine it takes a pretty thick skin to be an editor... That's one of the things holding me back from even taking a better look at what it would take to do that -- I can just imagine the level of abuse you have to take from the webmasters and probably even the "politics" of everything going on behind the scenes, that must be pretty hard on the nerves. What's your feeling, how is the time as an editor spent? I might go for 90% reviewing, 10% overhead, but it sounds a bit idealistic; what is your guess?

 

John

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  I can just imagine the level of abuse you have to take from the webmasters 

 

I have had very little of that over the years from emails to me. The only really bad experiences I've had is when posting on boards trying to explain something. :iamwithstupid:

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What Eddie said.

 

It's mainly those of us who show our heads above the parapet in external forums who receive incoming abuse. Most editors just quietly get along with their hobby - or not if they so choose :) .

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What's your feeling, how is the time as an editor spent? I might go for 90% reviewing, 10% overhead, but it sounds a bit idealistic; what is your guess?

Hard to say. It will vary enormously from editor to editor. For a new editor there is a lot to take in. Once past that learning phase, editors could edit pretty solidly, but many of the keenest end up as metas, which mean they could be spending a lot of time on non-editing tasks such as reviewing editor applications.

Edited by Jean_Manco

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:offtopic:

 

Wow:

 

Yes I know most people reading this won't believe that sitting at a computer all day and night is anything but natural and normal.

 

That's got to be one of the best, if humorous, statements I've seen. Mind if I borrow it?

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I'll take that as a "yes" then. :) It's a must-have for DesignerJones.com.

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ODP report for January 2006.

 

I can't see how to modify the title of this thread, in which I stupidly included 'for 2005', when I knew that the plan was to issue reports monthly this year. It seems silly to start a new thread though.

 

So here's the first monthly report. It does include a graph showing net growth through December and January, in order to show the effect of a Robozilla run.

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Hi Jean

 

I changed the title - hope that's OK.

 

It's great to see monthly reports. Now all they have to do is add a RSS newsfeed for maximum visibility, and what more could anyone ask for. Way to go. :applause:

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New editors: 301

Reinstated editors: 326

Accounts inactivated for a variety of reasons (inactivity, resignation, removal): ~ 778 (estimated)

So that looks like 627 editors in, versus ~778 editors out...

 

If the estimated ~778 editors inactivated is anything close to correct, that means an overall loss of around 150 editors for the period. Or put another way, that DMOZ seems to be losing editors 25% faster than it is attracting editors. I noted that in the previous report for last year too. Even though the workload is ever increasing (web growth just keeps accellerating), it does seem that the labour pool is definitely on a downward trend.

 

Has this become any level of concern yet? Are there any plans to address this situation of a shrinking editor pool somehow?

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Thanks Barry!

 

Has this become any level of concern yet? Are there any plans to address this situation of a shrinking editor pool somehow?

Yes and yes. Senior editors have been aware of the issue for some time and naturally they have been thinking about it.

 

We have had some fancy tools internally for years that enable editors to see stats for all sorts of things, but it tends to be the super-keen (and tool-savvy) who use them. Now with these reports, some stats are made available to all editors and the public.

 

However the stats don't tell us everything we might like to know. If I may venture on a little speculation, I'd say that there is a natural limit on the number of people willing to volunteer for online collaborations.

 

If so, then in parts of the world that have reached saturation online coverage, I would expect suitable applications to slow down. (I would expect some, as the next generation arrives on the web, or people retire or their circumstances change, so they can think about volunteering, but not a mad rush.) However in countries where the Internet is still building up, I would expect applications to continue at a higher level. I would be interested to know if that prediction is born out by the figures, but so far we haven't got those stats.

Edited by Jean_Manco

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Thanks for keeping us updated, Jean.

 

New editors: 289

Reinstated editors: 303

Accounts inactivated for a variety of reasons (inactivity, resignation, removal): 664

So the trend of declining editors is continuing, and not merely a post-Xmas thing. :(

 

592 Editors In versus 664 Editors Out to represent an overall loss of 72 editors over the month. While this represents a loss rate of only half the previous month's, it is still a sad statistic to see. The more so since we know that demand upon that shrinking pool is only growing and growing.

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Hi Jean,

 

One small suggestion (I don't frequent editing forums, so excuse me if this comes up over and over and over) would be to survey some of the exiting editors, and perhaps people who applied but were rejected. When I've done customer surveys for companies, these "non-participating" audiences often supplied some of the most interesting insights.

 

Improving editor retention/approval rates even a little would have a pretty nice impact on your shrinking population (not to mention easing the workload for those of you still in the fold).

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So the trend of declining editors is continuing

Editor numbers have been falling for years. You can find estimates dotted around from a few years ago that give an idea. For example Wikipedia currently says:

The number of active editors tends to range between 9,000 and 10,000.

 

[Memo to self: must update that.]

 

survey some of the exiting editors, and perhaps people who applied but were rejected. 

 

Departing editors quite often give a reason in their logs. I'm not sure if we could persuade them to fill in a survey form as they go. As I understand it though, the problem lies more in falling applications from suitable candidates. Which fits my theory on the effect of Internet saturation. But who knows?

Edited by Jean_Manco

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As I understand it though, the problem lies more in falling applications from suitable candidates.

Well, I just applied. I have to say, I wasn't very aware of DMOZ at all until I just recently got involved in learning more about SEO. Perhaps you have saturated involvement from certain kinds of people on the internet, but maybe there are lots of people like me (passionate about a particular topic, not very aware of directory editing!) that with a little education, would be happy to participate.

 

<edit>And rejected within 24 hours. Not questioning your editor's judgement, but I spent about 30 minutes reading guidelines, seeking appropriate sites, and putting together the application form. That's a pretty decent barrier to trying again. I'm sure it is really challenging to put together a screening process that finds good editors without taking up every waking hour of your "meta" editors. However, I suspect I would make a decent editor - and maybe I'm not the only one in your reject pile?</edit>

Edited by dgeary9

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It's not unusual for people to get in on the second or third attempt and go on to make good editors. So there's evidence on your side.

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Biggest tip I can give to any prospective editor is to forget being an expert in your field. You may well be, but you are not an expert DMOZ editor for any field, and will need to prove yourself in one of the smaller categories where you can prove you have editing skills.

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My best tips would be to follow the advice given here and to be sure to answer all questions fully :P.

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Followed most of that advice, guys. I picked a very small category with 10 entries at the moment - a "hobby" category for which I have a passion. So I did start out with small ambitions, I think, and I did follow the guidelines as best as I could.

 

I was pleased to be reviewed quickly, and please to get some "custom" feedback on why I was rejected. However, given what the feedback said, I think the bottom line is that the editor and I had an honest difference of opinion, one that could not have been anticipated from the guidelines.

 

Part of the reason I applied is so that I could provide feedback on the process, so that's all this is. I'm not sure how exactly you might go about finding editors from the reject pile - is there any kind of internal coding on the rejections for "made mistakes, but might make a decent editor" vs "spam, hopeless, no chance"?

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That you got some comments specific to your application should be regarded as encouragement (unless they were Please do not apply again).

 

The category you requested doesn't have a description[1], but you might like to look at that for its parent category. It points out that commercial sites belong within Shopping if they meet its requirements or within Business otherwise.

 

Descriptions 'cascade' down from parent categories to their children. I don't know what the evaluating meta said to you but I'd have declined your application on those grounds.

 

Also, even if commercial websites were accepted in that branch of the directory, the ones you suggested had too broad a scope for the category and would have been listed higher up the tree.

 

Most of us took several attempts to get it right, learning from each mistake. Try again :) .

 

[1] I'll add one in a mo. (now done)

Edited by jimnoble

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That you got some comments specific to your application should be regarded as encouragement (unless they were Please do not apply again).

LOL! OK, I guess I feel encouraged!

 

The category you requested doesn't have a description[1], but you might like to look at that for its parent category. It points out that commercial sites belong within Shopping if they meet its requirements or within Business otherwise.

Jim, I much appreciate you taking a look, but I admit to being very confused. I applied for a parenting chats & forums category?? I don't see anything about commercial sites?

 

The feedback I got was that they were looking for sites that were "only" chats/forums. A perfectly valid criterion, but not one that most of the current sites in the category meet, so perhaps the editor involved is trying to narrow the definition for future submissions?

Edited by dgeary9

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Oops, I was talking about the application with the username dgeary9. If I'd checked the date, I'd have realised I'd got the wrong one :).

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Just some blue-sky thoughts about all this. :)

 

I wonder if the initial screening filters are too restrictive. It clearly takes a lot of recycling and effort on the part of would-be editors and of those doing the screening. So the tap letting new editors into the DMOZ bath is running very slowly. Meanwhile there are a good number of editors who are leaving the bath via the plug hole so the bath is slowly emptying.

 

Perhaps if more editors were let into the bath it would take less screening effort. Hopefully then with just a little more effort, you could root out editors who are not making it.

 

I'm wondering whether this more welcoming approach might work better. Certainly the present somewhat fearsome process is very daunting.

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Oops, I was talking about the application with the username dgeary9. If I'd checked the date, I'd have realised I'd got the wrong one  :D.

 

 

Too funny! Either way, it was above and beyond to go checking, thanks Jim!

 

And Barry has managed to far more eloquently express what I was trying to say with my personal experience. I'm not sure how DMOZ can balance demands on senior editors with a lower "barrier to admission" process for new editors, but it sounds like it might be important to consider, given the shrinking editor population.

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Thanks, Jean, for spotlighting that.

 

I particularly liked to see the following in the report:

 

  • The Guidelines for Site Selection have been changed: Spider food sites, lead generators and content mills have been added to the list of sites which are generally not included.
  • At the same time, trustworthyness is now explicitly named among the criteria to consider when selecting sites.

 

 

I think the volume of Internet pollution is growing to such a point that human intervention to identify the rubbish is absolutely essential. I hope ODP can play a big part in that process.

:applause:

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The ODP Report for May shows how Robozilla ruthlessly culls dead links.

 

It also mentions the new no-Dmoz tag introduced by MSN Search, and issues a plea to help us keep up to date.

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Thanks for the update Jean,

 

It gives me no pleasure to point out that the ODP report for June contains grammatical errors.

 

Activities & Projects

·The Spring/Summer edition of the ODP newsletter has been published. Written by editors for editors, it offers insights what we are working on, what we do for fun and which topics we are excited about.

May I humbly suggest that this is edited to read:

it offers insights into what we are working on.

 

There are other errors, but they are of a more technical nature. For example; one shouldn’t really begin a sentence the words BUT or IF

 

Edited /////// another solution may be to add a coma after insights ///////

 

Genuinely trying to help :)

 

Kindest regards,

TreV

Edited by manager

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Whoops! I should have spotted the missing word, since I proof-read. Duly pointed out now.

 

I don't worry these days about starting a sentence with but. I was taught that it should be used as a conjunction, but I get weary of however and like to throw in some variation. If is not regarded as a sentence-starter to avoid. You may be thinking of and. However Fowler's Modern English Usage simply refers to the "superstition about starting a sentence with but or and", rather than taking it seriously as poor usage.

Edited by Jean_Manco

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I don't worry these days about starting a sentence with but. I was taught that it should be used as a conjunction, but I get weary of however and like to throw in some variation. If is not regarded as a sentence-starter to avoid. You may be thinking of and. However Fowler's Modern English Usage simply refers to the "superstition about starting a sentence with but or and", rather than taking it seriously as poor usage.
:) Yeah OK Jean, Ihear you !

I'm unable to respond to your reply right now, because I’m very tired. In my weary state, your response looks a tad defensive, given that I only sought to spare the DMOZ some ridicule and embarrassment.

 

TreV

Edited by manager

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